A new instrumented method for the evaluation of gait initiation and step climbing based on inertial sensors: A pilot application in Parkinson's disease

Gianluca Bonora, Ilaria Carpinella, Davide Cattaneo, Lorenzo Chiari, Maurizio Ferrarin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Step climbing is a demanding task required for personal autonomy in daily living. Anticipatory Postural Adjustments (APAs) preceding gait initiation have been widely investigated revealing to be hypometric in Parkinson's disease (PD) with consequences in movement initiation. However, only few studies focused on APAs prior to step climbing. In this work, a novel method based on wearable inertial sensors for the analysis of APAs preceding gait initiation and step climbing was developed to further understand dynamic balance control. Validity and sensitivity of the method have been evaluated. Methods: Eleven PD and 20 healthy subjects were asked to perform two transitional tasks from quiet standing to level walking, and to step climbing respectively. All the participants wore two inertial sensors, placed on the trunk (L2-L4) and laterally on the shank. In addition, a validation group composed of healthy subjects and 5 PD patients performed the tasks on two force platforms. Correlation between parameters from wearable sensors and force platforms was evaluated. Temporal parameters and trunk acceleration from PD and healthy subjects were analyzed. Results: Significant correlation was found for the validation group between temporal parameters extracted from wearable sensors and force platforms and between medio-lateral component of trunk acceleration and correspondent COP displacement. These results support the validity of the method for evaluating APAs prior to both gait initiation and step climbing. Comparison between PD subjects and a subgroup of healthy controls confirms a reduction in PD of the medio-lateral acceleration of the trunk during the imbalance phase in the gait initiation task and shows similar trends during the imbalance and unloading phase of the step climbing task. Interestingly, PD subjects presented difficulties in adapting the medio-lateral amplitude of the imbalance phase to the specific task needs. Conclusions: Validity of the method was confirmed by the significant correlation between parameters extracted from wearable sensors and force platforms. Sensitivity was proved by the capability to discriminate PD subjects from healthy controls. Our findings support the applicability of the method to subjects of different age. This method could be a possible valid instrument for a better understanding of feed-forward anticipatory strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 5 2015


  • Anticipatory Postural Adjustments (APAs)
  • Gait initiation
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Step climbing
  • Wearable sensors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Health Informatics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A new instrumented method for the evaluation of gait initiation and step climbing based on inertial sensors: A pilot application in Parkinson's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this